Job Seeking and Carbon Monoxide

October 5, 2015

Just a quick update to show plenty more comic is on the way. I got slowed down a fair bit last week as I had an important job interview to prepare for, which involved much reshuffling of my portfolio and excessive preparation for improbable questions.


I figured with that clear I’d have some time to push forward with Apothecary Supreme but got a nasty scare yesterday when our house’s Carbon Monoxide alarm went off; not for the first time either as it had gone off the day before which we’d put down to it passing a detector’s typical lifespan.

As it turns out, builders working on the joined house next door had – in what may be one of the most negligent acts I’ve ever witnessed – temporarily moved the boiler flue INSIDE the extension being built, slowly filling up our homes with the toxic gas. I’m all for forgiving mistakes but considering this one could have killed us perhaps I can be forgiven for being completely furious.

On the bright side (if there is one) this disturbing incident got me out of the house for the day and I had a decent run sketching out forthcoming pages in a coffee shop. Meanwhile, page 17 just needs some cleanup and dialogue before it finally surfaces.

I’ll likely post it later today, in the meantime folks I would highly commend the values of a decent CO detector…

Where my life’s at

August 11, 2015

Well, I won’t be overly dramatic. Things aren’t exactly terrible but lately they have been turbulent.

Evidence I haven't completely neglected AS in the last month...

Evidence I haven’t completely neglected AS in the last month…

Apothecary Supreme has been on ice for well over a month which is pretty damn embarrassing after my little speeches about getting organised and motivated but it hasn’t been forgotten, rather I’ve been drawn to more immediate concerns. You guessed it, my real real job.

Part of this has been down to assisting with a rather large freelance commission but more pertinently as of a week ago I found myself to be victim of what you might euphemise as a ‘restructuring’ at work; as it stands I’m not sure how I should feel about this being largely inevitable and unconnected to my performance, but regardless it’s thrown most of my immediately plans into disarray. Creative employment is often difficult to come by and while the role was often demanding it was in a niche I didn’t feel ready to leave. I can at least be thankful that those close to me have been very supportive through what could well be a difficult transition.

On the flipside, I presently feel more determined than ever to keep my own creative practices going in the absence of stable employment. Having worked hard in a job that no longer exists returning to my comic is not just self therapy but feels essential in order to keep my creative juices flowing till they can be applied professionally elsewhere and as ever I’m determined to get something solid finished which I can print up for conventions and the like.

There’s plenty more to say but with a new page on the verge of completion and the next few coming together it seems a shame not to the ride the momentum. I’ll make every effort to update regularly again and be more proactive online in the coming weeks.

Ambition, Time and Motivation

May 20, 2015

Recently a fellow comic creator and friend demontales wrote about his frustrations in having abundant ideas in the medium but being unable to see them through.

Having suffered plenty of my own dead ends and prematurely concluded projects it got me thinking that it might be good to share how my own methods have evolved to accommodate limitations. It’s ironic that I’ve been meaning to write more often about my work but failing to find the time so this struck me as an ideal topic to jump in with.

Had I a time travelling Delorean I'd finish my comics, give them to my past self and then be forced to stop it from happening to prevent a time paradox.

Had I a time travelling Delorean I’d finish my comics, give them to my past self and then be forced to stop it from happening to prevent a time paradox.

To my mind there are two main overlapping areas that have changed in the last couple of years, ambition and time.

Time is has become a truly finite resource for me and it’s only looking back now that I realise what an obscene amount I had before, and how much of it was squandered chasing stars rather than following a road with a clearly mapped out beginning and end. Between taking on a demanding (occasionally rewarding) design job and entering a into a serious relationship the gaps in my schedule have contracted enormously.

This is where management of ambition comes in; first and foremost in the department of ideas. The thing is that everyone has ideas, some good, a lot bad and maybe a few that are truly brilliant. The trick is in getting them out of your head into the real world, preferably in a form which others can appreciate.

Ideas are not such a problem for me – not that I can objectively vouch for their quality – but my main failing since getting into comics is in overestimating my abilities and thinking that the best way to approach the medium is with everything planned out in one go and taking idea generation out of production entirely. For some folks this might work but I know now that it was a huge mistake.

With my last comic ‘Branch‘ I wrote out a complete script for an enormous complex story, and drew concepts for nearly every character before I even made the first page. None of this was necessarily bad, some of it indeed I’m still pleased with but the mistake was in assuming I would continue to be motivated over a lengthy production by the ideas I’d had then rather than the ideas that I was continuing to have and develop.

This is just me, I wouldn’t suggest it applies to everyone but what I’ve learned is that I’m only truly inspired to draw comics when I have lots of room for improvisation. It flies completely in the face of what I learned when I was educated in film – never shoot without a finished script on at least draft three – but I’m sure now that it’s only way I can really make it work and see something through.

I do still plan of course, but it’s with a great deal more restraint than a formerly had; looking to the humble successes of my short one-shots rather than my failed epics Apothcary Supreme is at present only backed by a single script for a 30 page opening story rather than an enormous tome charting an odyssey with complete back stories and conclusions. Sure, I have notes and ideas for further stories, but I deliberately left myself room this time to change them and inject new ideas without upsetting some grand arch narrative and feeling like I’ve wasted lots of time. Time which – as I pointed out – is considerably diminished.

Even what’s actually scripted has and likely will change before I’m done, I’m not entirely decided on my existing ending to the issue and honestly that’s what keeps my creative spark going; the feeling that almost anything can still happen should I have a good enough idea. It’s this approach which keeps the project truly alive for me, a true creative outlet rather than the outdated light stream from a fading star.

It’s an approach which also applies to my reasoning for going back to basics with the drawings and largely eschewing digital techniques from the process. Going pen to paper may be crude in some respects with more painful mistakes which are potentially difficult to correct but the immediacy appeals to me in a way which digital work increasingly fails to, feeling genuinely cathartic rather than a chore. People will nearly always favour colour, but black and white hatching simply feels like a truer representation of my creative drive than one filtered through a computer.

None of this is to say my problems are now solved and that there aren’t more struggles and mistakes ahead. I’m still fighting for time between everything life has to throw at me while Apothecary Supreme’s backlog buffer is getting progressively thinner.

Still I know this has definitely been a step in the right direction for me.

The Apothecary is in!

April 1, 2015

Well here it is, my new comic Apothecary Supreme has begun going online today on The Duck and ComicFury.


I’ve been at it a while since as mentioned in the last post I really wanted to have something this time before sharing it.  I’ve got a decent backlog to ensure regular updates (Wednesdays) for a while, no telling if I’ll be able to keep the pace up but at least sharing will spur me on to work a little harder.

It’s essentially an episodic fantasy comic centring on Greta – a small eccentric apothecary sporting a bit of a mean streak.

GretaFigureConcept1jThere will be monsters and horror aplenty but I’ve also tried to imbue it with a darkly humorous edge to offset the more ridiculous/obscene elements.

As of the moment I’m focusing on finishing the first issue as a bit of an experiment to see how well it turns out. Assuming I’m successful I’ll most likely work on more issues, however for now I don’t want to repeat my old mistakes and bite off more than I can chew; my initial goal is to simply tell a satisfying self contained story in around 30 pages.

So here goes, my 1st comic to appear online in almost two years, onwards!

Coming out of Cold Sleep

February 21, 2015

It’s been a while hasn’t it?… I say to what is likely an empty room…


‘Sleep’ is honestly far from the truth given how busy things have been in my absence from internet updates; work, relationships and life generally have all been exhausting, moving at turbo pace as I cling on for dear life. However, I’m gradually coming back online and I figured some kind of explanation was in order on the off-chance anyone is still left reading this derelict URL.

I’ll get it out of the way. ‘Branch’, my cyberpunk epic and the original focus of this blog is caput. Abandoned. Left for dead. It still makes me wince to say it outright, but the decision to pull the plug was made a long time ago and while saddening to me it was definitely the right call.

There were many reasons; the fact my heart was no longer in it, the longing to return to traditional methods, my awful update schedule, my slapdash promotion, the increasingly awkward connection to my bygone Masters degree. In the end I think I can summarise it most simply as trying to build a galleon before I’d figured out how to build a boat.

The script I wrote for Branch is one I’m still quietly proud of, but realising it on a reasonable timescale as intended was a challenge I was not up to and perhaps, may never be. It was this crushing revelation and the ensuing embarrassment that drove me off the web and back into my bedroom to go looking for my confidence. I was furious with myself for releasing it in an unfinished state, with the conclusion unlikely to be delivered before my prospective audience died of boredom.

What I can say now in retrospect is that the project wasn’t an entirely fruitless exercise. The product of my efforts may never have fully materialised but the lessons learned were extremely valuable. Painful as it was it allowed me to feel the boundaries of my skills and more importantly where my strengths lie.

Branch is not my first big failure – as I have numerous other abandoned comics to my name – but I want to make sure it is my last for some time. I can apologise all I want for all the false starts people have wasted time on (seriously guys, sorry) but I think it’s more important to take action which will provide the results I’ve been failing to provide.

As some of you may notice – silent room – ahem, as may be apparent from my older posts I’ve repurposed this blog for general comic output and stripped everything back to be nice and simple. Being straight, I don’t want to faff around presenting a nice wordpress, I want to get on with actual comics first and foremost without any of the old excuses.

GretaBackpack2webAs the concept art above illustrates I have still been at work on comic stuff while I’ve been away. I wanted to have a clear plot, plan and a nice backlog of pages before I showed anything publicly, what I absolutely didn’t want was another load of long hiatuses and broken promises.

The story this time is a reasonably lengthed little comic, open to being a serial but self-contained and achievable, once again embracing the hand drawn black and white crosshatching I started out in. It’s been progressing quietly for some time now and all being well it should start appearing online in the next few months with a goal for print in the not too distant future.

I could say more about it, slip you plot hints or apologise and moan some more for my past failings but honestly, right now I just want to shut up, sit down and get drawing again.

So yeah, stay tuned!


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